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Crumlin Star bid to repeat Cup heroics by toppling Larne

: Crumlin Star, pictured celebrating their Border Cup final defeat of Ballynahinch Olympic over the festive period, bid to reach the last eight of the Irish Cup when they face Championship 1 leaders Larne at Inver Park on Saturday afternoon : Crumlin Star, pictured celebrating their Border Cup final defeat of Ballynahinch Olympic over the festive period, bid to reach the last eight of the Irish Cup when they face Championship 1 leaders Larne at Inver Park on Saturday afternoon
By Paddy Tierney

Tennent’s Irish Cup Sixth Round
Larne v Crumlin Star (Inver Park, Saturday, 3pm)

CRUMLIN Star manager, Paul Trainor admits his side need a “miracle” in order to progress to the quarter-finals of the Irish Cup at Larne’s expense.

The North Belfast men return to Larne just weeks after relocating from The Cliff to Belfast’s ‘Cricky’ pitch with the nearby Inver Park hosting Saturday’s Irish Cup clash.

The Championship 1 pacesetters seem destined to gain promotion to the top flight and are currently 16 points clear of second-placed Portadown, so Trainor knows the size of the task facing his men on Saturday.

“We can’t get away from Larne,” joked Trainor.

“It is a bit of a bonus game for us. Crumlin Star in the last 16 of the Irish Cup is almost unheard of. The club has only ever reached this stage once before.

“That game was spoiled a little as the bad weather forced the game to be moved to a Monday night and Carrick beat them 1-0 in 2016.

“It is going to be a big ask of our boys. As long as we go down and put in a good shift, which I know they will, I’ll be happy. This is Loughgall and a hell of a lot more.”

Trainor was referencing his side’s remarkable 4-1 win over Larne’s Championship 1 counterparts, Loughgall in the fifth round of the Irish Cup.

Star travelled to Lakeview Park as massive underdogs, but a three-goal salvo in the opening 30 minutes, including a brace from skipper Barry McKervey, stunned the Armagh men. On the same day, Larne caused a minor upset when they defeated Premiership strugglers Newry City 2-1.

With a host of former Cliftonville stars in their ranks, Larne will be fancied to make further progress having lost out to eventual champions Coleraine at the semi-final stages of last year’s competition.

“Without being negative about it, it will take all of our boys to be on their ‘A’ game on Saturday,” added Trainor.

“What we achieved at Loughgall was fantastic, but we’ll need a miracle to go down and get a result. That being said, it is the Irish Cup and fairytales can happen.

“You only have to remember the famous Newington and Glentoran result a few years back. There’s always a chance.

“I know people talk about the fact that they (Larne) have a major budget, but I know their management well. I know they’ve got some financial clout, but they’ve done very well. It is easy having the money – they’ve put together a plan and they’ve done a hell of a job with Larne.

“They’ve some fantastic footballers. Martin Donnelly is having a great season; Conor Devlin is a top-class goalkeeper; Tomás (Cosgrove) could have the pick of the Irish Premiership sides. David McDaid is coming into good form and he is starting to score goals.

“We’ll go down and give it our best and see where it takes us.”

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